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How do you manage your cooling water

I thought we could use a thread to discuss wether you use tap water or a recirculating system for cooling your still and what, how, where you got the stuff to make it work. What is your cooling water source temp, how it changes thruout a run and how you adjust to cope with such changes. I would volunteer to describe my system but I am away on business and soonest I'll be able to details on mine will be 27 Jan. In the meantime, chime in on what you have and I'll catch up ASAP. Hooch.


  • What I can do in the meantime is tell you a little about my setup.

    I run a 10 plate still on a 26 gallon boiler with two 5500W elements. My cooling system is set up for recirculating from a 1000L reservoir. I use a March 809 PL magnetic drive pump and I run the return (hot water) through a cooling management BUD box that has return temps (SD Thermo "T") and flow meters (Digiflow 6700M) and flow control valves (SD needle valves) for separate returns (Dephlegmator and Condenser). The return hot water is then directed to an automotive style radiator and fan combo (actually a Honda Accord rad/fan system from a salvage yard) and eventually back to the reservoir. The reservoir is hooked up to a control box equipped with an STC 1000 controller which turns on the fan at a set temp of 22C. I have hooked the STC 1000 to power up an AC/DC 65A power supply to run the fan and a switch to select from 2 probes. One for return water temp, the other to reservoir water temp. In addition, I placed a water misting system used in the r/v industry to help keep r/v engines cool. It is a basic mister which is connected to my well and it sprays a fine mist on the radiator from 70F well water at a rate of 0.2 GPH. I will post pictures and links to the components when I get back home. This system has worked very well and I hope it will help you figure out one that suits your needs. Hooch


    temp box 003.JPG
    800 x 600 - 61K
  • nice setup captain - especially the server PSU!!!

    i just fill my 180l beer kettle with water & use a large aquarium pump to push through a Y splitter then the depleg / product condenser before joining em back with another Y & into a fan forced radiator before returning to the kettle.

    I now tend to run a set & forget system & only adjust the power rather than the coolant flow - somehow seems much easier to just play with 1 knob. haha

  • edited January 2014

    Nice setup. +

    Water Storage
    I use a 1000L shuttle, with a submersible pump running into a flow meter then split into 2 lines for each condenser.
    Only have a valve on the dephlem, product runs at whatever/flat out.
    2 return lines into the top of the shuttle tank, no fans/radiator etc, it can get fairly warm on runs however.
    Taps on all lines to stop water running everywhere when changing/disconnecting hoses.

    One run caused my submersible pump to shut off towards the end of 2 stripping back to back sessions, running 5000-7000w on each run. I've since checked that most of these pumps are only rated to 35-40 C.

    I'm thinking that the solar water systems 12v water circulating pumps may give better service life?

    It really depends on starting temps, 35 C starting and last run I needed to divert the exit water to the lawn, and run tap water to the shuttle to keep the volume up and try to cool the water down a bit, very easy with the plumbing I have in place. Cost of water is peanuts, so for me its not about saving water, but trying to get consistence and repeatable runs and results.


    • How effective is a radiator in these setups?
    • Is monitoring water (exit) temps worth doing or just another item to check every now and again?

    Once again, yours is a nice setup, valves in the controller box setup looks so much more professional.




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    800 x 600 - 65K
    2013-10-19 16.21.44.jpg
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  • I ain't got squat compared to you guys. I connect to mains water and feel guilty about wasting it but water is darn near free. Setting up for recirculation makes better sense but I don't have the space for another tank.
    The upside is that its cheap and easy, the downside is the water is wasted. If I brewed and distilled everyday then sure I'd try to recover the energy, that is much more valuable, in the water I'm draining away.

    I don't have hard facts to support it but I think I use about as much water to run my still as my woman uses to take a shower. Tap full on for 20 minutes vs a slow trickle over 3 to 4 hours.

  • I am glad I set up a recirc. system. I am on a well and like you mentioned Lloyd, a toilet flush sends the pressures up and down. Also, it turns out I average 1.2GPM or over 350 gallons ona 5 hr run. We do have water issues with too many people moving in to my state and I feel good about doing my part in conserving. I could have just asked to Mrs. to skip a shower on the day I decide to run and it would be just about even, but we all know THAT, IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. =))

  • @crozdog the PSU is from a fellow on eBay USA. I found it reasonably priced.

  • edited January 2014

    @fadge, another pump worth considering would be a washing machine pump. Although not self priming, they are cheap (around $20 new for generic) handle hot water, high flow and don't block with small solids or slime.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @fadge I do not think the radiators are all that effective alone since the air temp and the water temp are not as far appart as in an automotive application, but by adding the mister, a little evaporative cooling certainly helps and i found the easiest way for me was to use the radiator and fan. The outlet temp is just something to check here and there and help with the overall picture of what is going on. I like to use the least amount of heat to maintain all the plates loaded and an output rate of 3-4 L/H. By looking at the outlet temp i can sorta tell if I might be using too much power and having to knock it back with the deph. I then try to lower the heat first, before increasing water flow. Just me, everyone else probably have their own way of achieving the same balance. What I am liking a lot is how repetitive it becomes as similar charges tend to run at similar input/cooling flow rates and temps.

  • @punkin I wonder if the washing machine pumps can handle a long run of several hour. Certainly a lot cheaper than March pumps!

  • Dunno

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Awesome info. Thanks all. I run to waste which is an issue with our current usage because we already get charged for excess water. Hoping @olddog chimes in with some details as I will be using a similar controller

  • edited January 2014

    I have friends that brew and use these:

    Chugger Stainless Steel Inline Pump @ Brewers Hardware

    They say they are good quality.

  • Thanks @cunnyfunt I do really like the March and the mag drive cause you can pinch the flow down to near zero with no adverse efeects to the pump and those on your link are 1/2 the price Sweet!

  • edited January 2014

    The Chugger Pumps are popular amongst the beer guys here in Aus and the Aussie agent is a good guy.

    If you contact Andrew tell him punkin sent you.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited January 2014

    @cunnyfunt said: captainshooch Cheap heat rated mag drive pump:

    Pump - High Temperature Magnetic Drive Pump @ National Home Brew AU

    Self priming?

  • That is a massive tank. Awesome. I'm upgrading to a 5 gallon recirculation tank and new pump. I recirc my hot side through a small aluminum heat exchanger and a fan. My temps stay at ambient room temp all the way to the end of the run where ABV drops to 20% or less. But even when distilling water alone it only raises the temp 15-20 degrees over ambient.

    I have many more things to focus on to be improve on this hobby, so this is lower priority to upgrade, but I like your approach.

  • edited July 2016

    @captainshooch, your system is way more uptown than mine, which is a Harbor Freight 24" fan, shrouded through a BMW M3 radiator. I haven't installed the mister yet, but it's part of the original plan. All that phase-change energy is nice to get rid of.

    The pump is actually a Harbor Freight (are you seeing a pattern, here?) well system, with pressure tank and pressure shutoff valve. That system pumps from a plastic 15-gallon beer keg, to a supply manifold on the wall to supply cooling to 3 still condensers and a wort chiller. A parallel return manifold routes the heated water to the radiator, and back to the storage keg.

    Without the mister, and running 4500 watts in a 2-hour test, the water returning to the keg was cool to the touch, although I have no thermosensors in that system. So far the cooling system does everything well, but wort chilling is a bit slow, because the delta-T of wort and coolant gets pretty small, but the mister should help that.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • northern brewer has new pumps ( I think they had chugger make them), but interesting is that the new version 2.0 ones are brushless 24VDC with an AC adapter... not XP, but at lease more splashproof than a march/chugger air cooled motor

    The Steelhead 2.0™ Brewing Pump @ Northern Brewer


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